US drone completes sea-based test flight

The US Navy successfully flew its new unmanned helicopter MQ-8C Fire Scout system for the first time from the guided missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham off the Virginia coast recently.

New York: The US Navy successfully flew its new unmanned helicopter MQ-8C Fire Scout system for the first time from the guided missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham off the Virginia coast recently.

After more than a year of land-based testing, the MQ-8C Fire Scout grew its sea legs, making 22 takeoffs and 22 precision landings as Navy pilots controlled the helicopter from the ship's ground control station.

"The MQ-8C Fire Scout's flights from the USS Dunham represent a significant Navy milestone," said Jeff Dodge, the US Navy's Fire Scout programme manager.

"This is the first sea-based flight of the MQ-8C and the first time an unmanned helicopter has operated from a destroyer," Dodge added.

The Navy conducted the tests to assess how well the drone could land on a ship moving at varying speeds and to measure its capabilities in different wind conditions.

"The extended capabilities will offer the Navy a dynamic, multipurpose unmanned helicopter with increased endurance," Dodge said.